Philadelphia, PA – An Occupy ICE tent city outside the Philadelphia regional office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was taken down by Philadelphia police on Thursday, as officers on bikes plowed through the encampment to clear a pathway to and from the building (video below).
Dozens of protesters had taken over the sidewalk and entry areas around the building for the past four days, WCAU reported.
In addition to calling for an end to the separation of families at the U.S. border with Mexico, the demonstrators have also demanded that an immigrant family detention center in Berks County be closed, and want the city to stop allowing ICE to access local police, prosecutorial, and court records, according to the new outlet.
“Protestors have been notified repeatedly that they are free to remain and protest at the premises, as long as they do not block the building egress or set up permanent encampments,” a spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told WCAU in an email. “Despite these repeated warnings today and throughout the week, a group of protestors ignored these instructions.”
“No one, regardless of political view, is permitted to set up an encampment and the mayor cannot make exceptions simply because he agrees with the protesters,” the spokesman added.
According to WCAU, law enforcement officials warned the demonstrators to leave three times before approximately 100 officers were sent to clear the area.
Video footage showed a swarm of officers on bicycles as they descended on the encampment and ordered protesters to move back.
They tore down tents, umbrellas, and tarps as the demonstrators yelled and argued.
“We weren’t doing anything!” one man screamed. “Stop being a–holes!”
Some of the demonstrators scrambled to gather their litany of belongings, while others stood by and recorded the events. A few remained seated on the ground.
“You f–king fascist pigs!” an irate man yelled just before he raised both hands in an obscene gesture. “Damn you all to hell!”
Using their bikes as a barricade, the officers held the line and waited for the demonstrators to clear out.
When two of the protesters refused to stand, police swooped in and took them into custody. Their fellow officers surrounded them and continued to push the belligerent crowd away from the melee.
Police arrested seven individuals by the time they cleared the encampment, WCAU reported.
All were cited for failure to disperse and were released.
“We are protecting their right to protest as well as trying to keep the streets open and trying access to this building,” Deputy Commissioner of Special Operations Dennis Wilson told WPVI. “There are multiple businesses in this building so we have to make sure these entrances are kept open.”
Officers had already arrested another 29 protesters who were blocking the walkway on Tuesday, according to WCAU.
You can watch footage of the officers’ clash with the irate demonstrators in the video below: